2000s Warmest Decade Ever

As 2010 approaches, world leaders would do well to consider a wide-reaching New Year's resolution: curb the carbon pollution that has helped make the 2000s the warmest decade on record.

According to scientists, global temperatures between 2001-2009 averaged 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 1951-1980 standard, with the final three summers of the decade bringing melted Arctic and Greenland ice masses, receding permafrost, acidifying oceans, and rising sea levels.

The kicker? According to the World Meteorological Organization, the year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the advent of instrumental climate data, a span of nearly 160 years.

By the end of last year, the 2000s included eight of the 10 warmest years in recorded history, and established itself as a hotter decade than the 1990s – which was in turn warmer than the 1980s: illustrative of a trend that, extrapolated to the year 2060, could mean a dangerous increase of 7 degrees above preindustrial levels.

With an opportunity to change our ways and set a course for a more conscientious future beginning at this month's Copenhagen climate summit, President Obama and other leaders must heed the science that says we have endured an alarming and unprecedented decade and aim for climate renewal in 2010.